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"Our lives are a book that has already been written. The brilliance of the plan is that we are only given a chapter at a time..." ~A. Drayton Boylston

Friday, June 12, 2015

A Year Ago

On this day a year ago, I walked into the office of a company I worked for 15 years in Boston, thinking it was just a normal Thursday morning. I found some young guy sitting at my desk. I guess I was a little naive, because I thought he was sitting there by mistake and asked him to move. He apologized, packed up his stuff and left. I proceeded to work as usual, and preparing for a meeting a guy visiting from the London office had arranged with me saying it was regarding a project I was working on. I had prepared all week to answer any questions he might have.

The London guy stopped by my desk with a big smile, asked how I was and made pleasant small talk with me. He asked if we could meet right then instead of our scheduled time... And I said I had a bit of time before a conference call I had to work on. Behind me I saw several people (a manager, a tech guy, etc) gathering in an office and thought nothing of it. I made my way to the conference room, following the London guy who continued to make small talk. We got in the room and sat down. He said that the meeting was not to talk about the project, but to terminate my employment. His demeanor changed from pleasant to stern. I was in complete shock, couldn't say anything, and tried to digest everything he was saying, but he was talking too fast. My only concern that I voiced at the time was "What about my clients? What about the conference call that I have in an hour?" And he said that someone was already handling everything and it was taken care of. He also said I was to leave immediately and that I couldn't talk to my co-workers to say goodbye. The whole time, a woman from HR was on a conference room phone waiting for her part, and I hadn't realized until he had introduced her. He said she could talk to me then, and he left the room. She went over my severance package too quick for me to take it in... And told me to sign it within a week. She hung up, I left the conference room still in shock and made my way to my desk to pack up my stuff.

 I didn't know where to begin... How do you pack up 15 years of your life? That's when the people who were waiting in the office behind me surrounded my desk. I was told I couldn't take anything except my personal belongings that were immediately in reach with me, and to hand over my computer and company cellphone. Not thinking, I left my newly purchased $40 case on the phone (which I never got back). I was told my co-workers would pack up my stuff for me and mail it to me. I walked out crying as my co-workers watched or pretended not to notice. I was followed down several flights of stairs and out the door, with the London guy behind me. He lit a cigarette, wished me good luck in my future endeavors, and promised to write me a glowing recommendation (which I never received).

I cried the entire way home on the train and in the car. I felt like someone I loved had died. I'm sure I made mistakes here and there at my job... No one is perfect. I suspect that I took the liberty of working from home more than I should have (but there were others who did too). But I was loyal and loved my job... My co-workers were amazing and I was comfortable there. I think the way I got let go was very unclassy, and impersonal considering how long I was there. But.... I received severance for nine months, which was a lot longer than I expected. I was also able to collect unemployment at the same time, which allowed me to get out of some debt and complete some home projects that were not possible before. I'm very grateful.

 I didn't know it at the time, but just before I was let go, Luke was conceived. I didn't find out I was pregnant until August. I was frantically attending job search seminars and looking for a job... So it hadn't even crossed my mind that I could be pregnant. I did really want a child, and after my miscarriage in 2013 I had kind of given up. Luke was a miracle and a precious gift. At the time I found out though... I was overwhelmed and thought the timing was awful. To top it off, every time I had an interview, my belly was stared at and of course I didn't get the job. It was not until after I gave birth in February that the job search picked up. I ran out of money, and we had to go on food stamps and WIC.

Despite the desperate situation, I tried to be picky about the interviews I went on..., I knew what I needed and where I would be happy. I interviewed at a tiny company in Westford... Many women there were married with kids and the managers knew that family time was important. They encouraged their employees to work from home whenever possible. I knew that was what would work for me. It took three months of follow up emails and calls... But I got the job. I was the 21st employee to be hired, a 22nd employee was just hired. The company is growing but still has a small business feel... Everyone is nice and understanding. Even with the pay cut... I am happy there. And it's nice not to have to take the train to get to work.

 I look at the past year and everything that's happened... I'm proud of myself for sticking to my beliefs and maintaining a positive attitude through all the difficulties. I have a beautiful son, a great job, and a descent life. I'm grateful for what I have, and for those people who have supported me through the stresses of the past year. Thank you Universe... And thank you friends.

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